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Standard Bank To Accenture: How I Left Banking To Join A Top Consulting Firm

Ifelade Ayodele left Standard Bank, Africa’s largest financial firm, to join the HEC Paris MBA program. Now he’s pivoted into a new career with Accenture, a top global consultancy

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Tue Sep 6 2022

BusinessBecause
Each year vast swaths of students enroll in MBA programs aiming to launch their careers in banking—around 40% in 2022 according to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC).

But for Ifelade Ayodele, enrolling in an MBA was a chance to pivot from his role in finance at Standard Bank—Africa’s largest financial firm—into an exciting new career path.

Ifelade swapped his home in Nigeria for France, where he enrolled in the top-ranked MBA program at HEC Paris. After graduating from the program in 2022, he pivoted into a new career with Accenture, a leading consultancy and Fortune 500 firm.


From Standard Bank to an MBA 

A physics undergraduate who spent a year teaching as part of a military scheme in Nigeria, Ifelade spent four years working at Standard Bank where he rose to a senior analyst role and specialized in risk and digital business.

Throughout his time at Standard Bank Ifelade’s work focused on several countries across Africa. But eventually he began considering an MBA program, as he wanted to look beyond the region’s borders for the first time.

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“I wanted to benchmark what I know with the rest of the world and see what happens outside of Africa, because Standard Bank had already given me that African view,” he explains.

This made studying abroad a top priority. But with the cost of an MBA program often rising above $100,000 in the US, Europe became Ifelade’s preferred option.

He was drawn to HEC Paris by the school’s impressive reputation, alongside a strong track record for helping students launch successful careers, and a network of renowned faculty and alumni.

“Everything kept pointing back to HEC for me,” he adds.

As a top-ranked school, studying at HEC Paris also meant Ifelade was eligible for the TY Danjuma MBA scholarship, which helps up to eight African students each year land a place on one of the world’s top 10 MBA programs.

Paired with a scholarship offered by HEC, the TY Danjuma award made studying the program affordable, he says.


Studying in the HEC Paris MBA 

What’s life like in a top MBA program? For Ifelade, studying at HEC Paris meant having a wealth of new experiences, while gaining exposure to a broad range of industries and functions.

“The program opened me up to a world that was much bigger than the one which I’d known,” he says.

With the majority of his experience limited to finance, the MBA’s core curriculum helped Ifelade develop a broad business acumen with modules covering key fundamentals like accounting, strategy, marketing, and economics.

“It gave me exposure to all of these different sectors: somebody in one class would have worked in a specific industry, then in the next class we’d be solving a case from another industry,” he says.

During modules focused on ethics, sustainability, and innovation, Ifelade also learned the value of looking beyond profits and focusing on various stakeholders when making business decisions.

“The MBA presents you with this deep sense of responsibility in whatever you’re doing,” he explains. “While we’re here to make money and deliver on commercial terms, we’re also considering how whatever you do impacts the Earth.”

The HEC Paris MBA curriculum features a large focus on developing key skills that can help you succeed in the workplace. For Ifelade, skills sessions helped him think strategically while also improving his communication and listening abilities.

“It sounds very basic, but I learned to actually listen to people. It’s not just what somebody says or writes, it’s about reading the room and how they try to communicate. I think that’s a really key skill,” he says.

These skills proved invaluable in launching Ifelade’s new career path.


A new consulting career with Accenture 

Ifelade spent the final six months of the HEC Paris MBA working part-time at a venture capital fund focused on African creatives, where he managed a small team of analysts. There, he was able to channel much of the learning he’d done on the MBA.

“I got feedback that I was doing very well in the job and it was all because of a corporate finance course I was studying,” he explains.

He left the fund when he graduated in early 2022, before landing a role with Accenture shortly afterwards. Having HEC Paris on his CV gave him an advantage during recruitment, he says.

“Even during the interviews, one of the interviewers was really keen to know about what I’d been studying at the school, you could see the emphasis.”  

Now, Ifelade spends his days working on various consulting projects for his clients, who are primarily financial institutions. Projects aim at improving their offerings, the effectiveness of processes ranging from technology systems to internal structures, in alignment with defined strategic objectives and desired outcomes.

“I’m talking to people across several teams trying to understand why they do what they do, challenging the status quo is the norm” he explains.

“We’re trying to improve the client’s offering, infrastructure, to support their growth and capture more value in the market.”

Reflecting on how the MBA helped prepare him for his new career, Ifelade feels he’s more adept at listening to client needs and now capable of managing multiple interests simultaneously—skills he’s further developing in the role.

“I’m also very aware of the reasons why I’m doing everything I’m doing,” he adds. “It’s a reminder every day to challenge yourself.”

Student Reviews

HEC Paris

Student

Verified

7/07/2022

On Campus

Cultural experience

I have met the most competent and diverse batch in this school. These people not only thrive on their own but also makes sure that you are doing it with them. The professors will take your had and walk you through all milestones and make sure you are not left behind. I have found their extracurriculars extremely engaging. There was always a room to have social life after academic life. The only hindrance is the location of the school, it is slightly outside city and living in city is expensive.

Sarah

Verified

18/03/2022

On Campus

Internationality and diversity of opportunities

About my programme I would say it is very international and flexible: we have the opportunity to choose exactly the courses we want. But at the same time, the frame of the campus is crucial in students' life and enable us to create friendships.

Student

Verified

29/10/2021

On Campus

Great selection of people

While HEC's MBA is highly selective, I really enjoy the type of people HEC's selects to make sure everybody gets the best out of their MBA experience and networking opportunities. Not only it's an incredibly diverse pool of people (~60 nationalities) but most importantly they make sure to let in friendly empathic and curious people.

Veronique

Verified

28/10/2021

Blended

Best in France for Grande ecole

A prestigious business school. Languages ​​are important. It is better to have a scientific baccalaureate with excellent grades in high school and good assessments. The courses are well designed as per the latest trends and practicality of learning in stressed upon. Overall, a very good experience.

Ghadi

Verified

11/06/2022

On Campus

Diversity and quality of fellow students

Very international and interesting place to be and opens a lot of opportunities, however the administration is very french and facilities are subpar (gym, classrooms) meaning the academic affairs is pretty much useless and lastly we are graded on a curve which can create a toxic environment because of the competition. With that being said the pros outweighs the cons by far.

Student

Verified

27/03/2022

On Campus

The quality of the teachers, the campus, the clubs

The school is very international indeed, we have courses with international students and share things with them within the extra academic life (in the social clubs especially). We have great career prospects if we prepare ourselves well - however, the global curriculum is still very finance-oriented, which is a pity for other interesting domains of the company world, which does not rely on finance only. The social clubs are good practice for the management and for now, are quite independent.

Lb

Verified

26/03/2022

On Campus

HEC Paris awaits you

HEC Paris is really a nice place to do a master's in business. Many classes are useful and interesting (corporate finance, financial accounting, contract law…), some are less - but the curriculum is to be reviewed in the year to come. Regarding the student life, it is incredible, with about 130 clubs, lots of great parties with even greater people. The Jouy campus offers a lot of opportunities to do sports, and you can breathe fresh air every day. HEC also helps a great deal to find an internship or a job.

Rajarshi

Verified

28/10/2021

Blended

A dream institute

Enrolling in the HEC MBA was by far the best decision I made for myself. The people and faculty are great, with lots of opportunities to meet people and expand your horizons. Very nice campus where I have had some good running sessions. The alumni network is superb and very helpful. It also has a good support system for entrepreneurs. Would definitely recommend it!

Student

Verified

19/10/2021

On Campus

Good choice for a career boost

The classes were extremely practical and relevant to the current challenges that businesses are facing. You have access to a wide range of professionals and good career prospects once you leave the university.

Student

Verified

7/07/2022

On Campus

Cultural experience

I have met the most competent and diverse batch in this school. These people not only thrive on their own but also makes sure that you are doing it with them. The professors will take your had and walk you through all milestones and make sure you are not left behind. I have found their extracurriculars extremely engaging. There was always a room to have social life after academic life. The only hindrance is the location of the school, it is slightly outside city and living in city is expensive.

Sarah

Verified

18/03/2022

On Campus

Internationality and diversity of opportunities

About my programme I would say it is very international and flexible: we have the opportunity to choose exactly the courses we want. But at the same time, the frame of the campus is crucial in students' life and enable us to create friendships.

Student

Verified

29/10/2021

On Campus

Great selection of people

While HEC's MBA is highly selective, I really enjoy the type of people HEC's selects to make sure everybody gets the best out of their MBA experience and networking opportunities. Not only it's an incredibly diverse pool of people (~60 nationalities) but most importantly they make sure to let in friendly empathic and curious people.

Veronique

Verified

28/10/2021

Blended

Best in France for Grande ecole

A prestigious business school. Languages ​​are important. It is better to have a scientific baccalaureate with excellent grades in high school and good assessments. The courses are well designed as per the latest trends and practicality of learning in stressed upon. Overall, a very good experience.

Ghadi

Verified

11/06/2022

On Campus

Diversity and quality of fellow students

Very international and interesting place to be and opens a lot of opportunities, however the administration is very french and facilities are subpar (gym, classrooms) meaning the academic affairs is pretty much useless and lastly we are graded on a curve which can create a toxic environment because of the competition. With that being said the pros outweighs the cons by far.

Student

Verified

27/03/2022

On Campus

The quality of the teachers, the campus, the clubs

The school is very international indeed, we have courses with international students and share things with them within the extra academic life (in the social clubs especially). We have great career prospects if we prepare ourselves well - however, the global curriculum is still very finance-oriented, which is a pity for other interesting domains of the company world, which does not rely on finance only. The social clubs are good practice for the management and for now, are quite independent.

Lb

Verified

26/03/2022

On Campus

HEC Paris awaits you

HEC Paris is really a nice place to do a master's in business. Many classes are useful and interesting (corporate finance, financial accounting, contract law…), some are less - but the curriculum is to be reviewed in the year to come. Regarding the student life, it is incredible, with about 130 clubs, lots of great parties with even greater people. The Jouy campus offers a lot of opportunities to do sports, and you can breathe fresh air every day. HEC also helps a great deal to find an internship or a job.

Rajarshi

Verified

28/10/2021

Blended

A dream institute

Enrolling in the HEC MBA was by far the best decision I made for myself. The people and faculty are great, with lots of opportunities to meet people and expand your horizons. Very nice campus where I have had some good running sessions. The alumni network is superb and very helpful. It also has a good support system for entrepreneurs. Would definitely recommend it!

Student

Verified

19/10/2021

On Campus

Good choice for a career boost

The classes were extremely practical and relevant to the current challenges that businesses are facing. You have access to a wide range of professionals and good career prospects once you leave the university.